This super easy vegan hot chocolate recipe is rich and creamy with hints of cinnamon and vanilla. Spike it with your favorite booze or drink it straight up.
I’ve been tinkering with my vegan hot chocolate recipe, because winter is coming, and that means alllll of the hot drinks! Bring on the cocoa, y’all!
Can Vegans Eat Chocolate?
A lot of folks are surprised to learn that vegans can even eat chocolate. While a lot of commercial chocolate — read: Hershey’s — is not vegan, good quality dark chocolate usually is.
Chocolate comes from the cocoa plant, and your basic dark chocolate only has three ingredients:
- cocoa powder – solids from the cocoa plant
- cocoa butter – fat from the cocoa plant
Commercial brands add milk and butterfat to their chocolate to make up for the fact that their product contains so little (or no!) actual chocolate. Cocoa butter is more expensive than butterfat or milk fat, so they use these cheap, animal-based fillers instead of the real deal.
Making Vegan Hot Chocolate
When it comes to hot cocoa, though, that whole argument is kind of moot. You’re just using the cocoa powder with no added ingredients.
To make a hot cocoa recipe vegan, all you need to do is substitute non-dairy milk for the cow’s milk, and you’re good to go. The trick is mimicking the creaminess of dairy-based cocoa, because usually those recipes use heavy cream and whole milk.
For really decadent, rich, creamy hot cocoa, you need some extra fat, and that’s where I have a favorite trick: light coconut milk!
Start by mixing the cocoa powder with just enough of the coconut milk to form a thick paste. This will help the powder dissolve.
Once you have that paste, add the rest of the ingredients, whisk, and heat. Then it’s time to sip!
About the Coconut Milk
I first made this recipe with all full fat coconut milk, but the coconut flavor was too strong for my taste. This updated vegan hot cocoa recipe uses light coconut milk plus soy or oat milk for a better balance of fat and flavor.
There is still a mild coconut taste, so if coconut isn’t your thing, I’d suggest using all soy or oat milk. The cocoa won’t be as rich, but it won’t taste of coconut. You can also use 1 3/4 cups of vegan creamer in place of the coconut milk, if that’s your speed.
Spiking Your Cocoa
This hot cocoa is delicious on its own, but for extra warm-you-up power, you can spike it with the booze of your choice. It’s delightful with a splash of mint rum, but you can also use:
- plain rum
- coffee liqueur
- vanilla vodka
Or choose your own adventure, if there’s a booze-and-chocolate combo that I haven’t listed above. And tell me about it, so I can try it, too!
Vegan Hot Chocolate
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 15 ounce can light coconut milk
- 1/4 cup organic sugar – or equivalent amount of your favorite powdered sweetener
- 2 cups soy or oat milk
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 ounce mint rum – or light or spiced rum, whiskey, or white whiskey (optional – This amount is per mug, not for the whole batch. Leaving the booze on the side means you can decide whether to spike, mug-by-mug.)
- In a sauce pot, whisk the cocoa powder and 1/4 cup of the coconut milk together until it forms a paste
- Add the rest of the ingredients (including the remaining coconut milk), except the booze.
- Heat on medium-low, whisking constantly, until the cocoa powder mixture is totally dissolved and the cocoa is heated through.
- Serve immediately. If you're not planning to serve all of the cocoa right away, turn off the heat, and just turn the stove on to heat it back up when you're ready to ladle out a mug or two.
- If you want to spike it: Add whichever booze you're using into the bottom of a mug, then top off with cocoa. Stir and serve.